Healthy Tips from the Extreme Makeover Blue Shirts

Oshkosh Northwestern photo by Anthony Wahl

The amazing Paige Hemmis went around to the Extreme Makeover Home Edition “Blue Shirt” crew and asked for their tips to keep your kids active and healthy. Tried and true, parent-to-parent tips – because we all know, your children’s health starts with you!

Portion control

Instead of giving your children a bag of chips, put a small portion into a baggie as a snack.

Lead by example

Be the role model! If you don’t eat your fruits and vegetables, neither will your kids!

Sneaky nutrition

Try to sneak in good nutrition whenever possible. Tricks like chopped carrots in a blended smoothie (they will never know it is there!) or applesauce as a snack. It is tasty, but still good for them!

Don’t keep sweets in the house

Not having sweets around makes it easy for kids to choose a healthy snack.

Pitch the can

Buy juice instead of soda.

Get off the couch!

Find things to do with your kids that don’t involve a video game, television or “sitting around”. Stay active with your kids. Spending time doing something that involves movement will be a great way to end your day and theirs!

Play sports

If you love football, or any other sport, find a way to share that interest with your children without just sitting and watching a game. Get outside and show them what the sport is all about!

We are sure you have more tips, be sure to share them with us! We will use them in future blog posts and share your great tidbit of health.

Now, get moving!

A message from Paige Hemmis: MOVE TO THE GROOVE!

That’s been our motto all week as we’ve teamed up with Lexington Homes to build an incredible house for this family. In keeping with Rhex Arboleda’s message, we’ve tried to incorporate dance into everything we do! We surprised the family by creating a “flash mob” in the local farmer’s market – all dancing to the moves that Rhex created for his students. Then, we called in our friends from Dancing With The Stars, to help us tear down this house during demolition….we did some “break” dancing, the “crowbar crunch”, the “chainsaw pull”, and several other dance moves that resulted in complete demolition of the family’s 586 square foot house. Now…as the family is getting ready to come home and see the beautiful (slightly bigger) home that has been created, it really gets us in the mood to celebrate…and dance!

One thing we’ve learned about what Rhex has created with “Move to the Groove” is what a great workout dance can be! I think what Rhex has done for kids is truly genius – it fights childhood obesity by getting kids to have a great time through dance. If you are anything like me, I do NOT like going to the gym to work out. But throwing on a good song and grooving to it? Now that’s my kind of workout! And believe me, after being swirled and twirled by Derek Hough and Tony Dovolani of Dancing With The Stars this week, I am soooo sore! Rhex definitely got it right….dancing is a GREAT workout.

So, in addition to building this family a great home, we want to help spread the Arboleda’s message to help combat childhood obesity and get everyone MOVING TO THE GROOVE! We encourage everyone to download Rhex’s song, his video, and his curriculum…in households and in schools all over the world…and GET MOVING!

On behalf of Ty, Michael, Xzibit, myself and everyone at Extreme Makeover: Home Edition…Thank you for being a part of our special week!

-Paige Hemmis, Designer/Carpenter Extreme Makeover: Home Edition

If you want to help the Arboleda family continue their mission, YOU CAN BE A PART OF IT! Text ANY dollar amount to help! Text “groove” and the dollar amount to 27138 (like groove 100 to 27138). Help us keep the groove moving!!!

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Healthy Eating Tips for Families from Ann Liebeskind, MD

Ann Liebeskind, MD, clinical lipidologist, Affinity Health System

You’ve probably been hearing a lot about eating healthy and staying active. Our First Lady, Michelle Obama, has even made it a national priority. There are so many ways we can eat a little better and move a little more. Whether you are ready for a big change or a few smaller ones, now is a great time to do it! Here are just a few ideas for kids and their parents to get started toward their own healthy goals.

Make fruits and vegetables a part of every meal or snack – Have you heard of rutabagas or loquats? See what you can discover on the next trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market. Or, if keeping fresh foods in the house all week is tough with a busy schedule, it’s ok to go frozen. Your grocery store’s frozen food section carries veggies you can steam in minutes in the microwave, often right in their own bags! No preparation, planning or clean-up required! Frozen fruit is also low-cost, easy-to-find and great for smoothies.

Start the day with a great breakfast that doesn’t make you late – You already know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but that it can be hard to fit it in on busy school mornings. You can make and freeze your own whole grain waffles and pancakes on the weekend, then defrost them quickly in the toaster. Add fruit for added flavor and nutrition. Cookie cutters can create fun shapes to add a smile to the morning. A piece of fruit or whole grain cereals are also quick and healthy choices.

Make your own designer drinks – Replace any unhealthy drinks with your own unique creation. So, you don’t like plain water? Grab a pitcher of water and experiment with flavors by adding slices of lemon or grapefruit. Want smoothies without the brand-name price? Get out the blender and add your favorite fruits to some ice.

Make it a team (family) effort – Meals made together and eaten at home can be simple and fun. Most importantly, they build stronger families. Why not take a family walk or bike ride after dinner, too?

Submitted by Ann Liebeskind, MD, a clinical lipidologist with Affinity Health System ( specializing in the care of patients with difficult cholesterol or lipid management needs. She has a special interest in preventive cardiology.

Dr. Liebeskind earned her medical degree from the University of Wisconsin Medical School and completed her residency at the University of Kentucky Hospital. She is board-certified in internal medicine and pediatrics, and is among the first Diplomates of the American Board of Clinical Lipidology. Continue reading

Why Using Food as a Reward is No Reward

At school, home, and throughout the community, kids are offered food as a reward for “good” behavior. Often these foods have little or not nutritional value but are easy, inexpensive and can bring about short term behavior change.

There are many disadvantages to using food as a reward:

  • It undermines nutrition education being taught in the school environment.
  • It encourages over consumption of foods high in added sugar and fat.
  • It teaches kids to eat when they are not hungry as a reward to themselves.

Kids learn preferences for foods made available to them, including those that are unhealthy. Poor food choices and inadequate physical activity contribute to being overweight and obese. Current obesity among kids is at epidemic levels and can often lead to serious health problems.

Kids naturally enjoy eating healthy and being physically active. Schools and communities need to provide them with an environment that supports healthy behaviors. Below are some zero cost alternatives for students to enjoy instead of being offered food as a reward.

  • Sit by friends
  • Watch a video
  • Read outdoors
  • Teach the class
  • Have extra art time
  • Enjoy class outdoors
  • Have an extra recess
  • Get a “no homework” pass
  • Listen to music while working
  • Eat lunch outdoors with the class
  • Dance to their favorite music in the classroom
  • Get “free choice” time at the end of the day

Create rewards for your students that are truly rewards … not influencers to future behavior.

Now, get moving!

Source: Michigan State University Extension. Adapted from a project funded by Michigan Department of Community Health’s Cardiovascular Health, Nutrition & Physical Activity Section at Lincoln Elementary School in South Haven, Michigan. Lincoln Elementary is a Team Nutrition school.

How to Help Children Make Healthy Snack Choices

Move to the Groove aims to provide students with information about good nutrition and the value of healthy food choices. This starts with the parents!  Many times, kids don’t get the chance to make good choices…the food that is sent with kids for lunch, as snacks, or as part of a birthday goodie bag are low in nutrients.

Since more than 75% of Americans do not consume the recommended 5 or more fruits and vegetables in a day, fresh fruit or vegetables is always a great snack choice!

Parents, pack a smart goodie bag! As an alternative to birthday snacks and candy, parents can pack party favors, pencils, stickers or a healthier treat. For classroom celebrations, if items such as cookies are going to be present, ensure that healthier options like fruits and vegetables are available as well. Don’t forget to be aware that many students have allergies or medical conditions that require careful attention to the foods offered. Fortunately, there are no fruits and vegetables on the top 10 list of most allergenic foods! Nuts, however, do not make the “top 10” list. Stay away from nuts!

Here are the best snack choices for your students and children:

  • Fresh fruit
  • Raw vegetables
  • Unsweetened packaged fruit (i.e. applesauce, etc)
  • Dried fruit (NOT fruit roll-ups or fruit snacks)

Some other great healthy alternatives are:

  • Fat-free or low-fat yogurt with fruit
  • Fat-free or low-fat cheese, soy cheese
  • Nuts or seeds
  • Trail mix (nuts, dried fruit, dry cereal, seeds)
  • Whole grain bagel, ½ serving
  • Whole grain crackers (brands containing no trans fats)
  • Whole wheat pita triangles
  • Low-fat bran muffin

Note: Peanut butter could be added to any whole grain food

Happy snacking!

For further information on food allergies, please refer to